How can I protect data on my external hard drive?

Osama Javaid April 18, 2011
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I recently purchased a Hitachi XL-1000 1TB external hard drive from I want to have some tips on how to make sure the safety of data in it because I have heard failure of external hard drives many times and I can’t afford this happening to me because of my critical data. Also tell me that is it safe to use defragmenting software on external HDDs.

  1. Joymbaca
    April 24, 2011 at 2:03 am

    We found out the hard way to never leave your external hard drive running 24/7, as it can overheat and burn out! Have mine on an extension cord that lets me pop it off and on as I need to use it.

    • Josh Fox
      April 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      Most current external drives will spin down after a time of not being used, essentially putting the drive to sleep. This saves power and protects the drive just as much as turning it off. Western Digital drives are really great at this. The only problem is that when it goes to sleep, you will have to wait for the drive to wake up the next time you access it.

  2. Bruce Epper
    April 20, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    If your backups are that critical to you, you may want to consider using a NAS device that supports RAID instead. If you set it up for mirroring, it will automatically be creating 2 copies of your backups without any additional interaction on your part. And when you get into an even more paranoid mode, you could look into storing one of your copies off-site so if something catastrophic happens to the local copy (building/house burns down), you will still have a backup that you can use to recover your data. (I even go so far as having copies stored at multiple backup locations.)

  3. Osama
    April 19, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Thanks for the tips guys....

  4. Anonymous
    April 18, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Well you can try to have an online backup solution and make a backup copy there. Also Best to have 2 x 500go rather then 1To so that to not loose all of them. Time to time you can make SMART analysis so that to prevent a catastroph.

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  5. Josh Fox
    April 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Since hard drive failure is always a possibility, regardless of brand or ratings, the only way to be 100% protected from these failures is to create redundant backups. This can get expensive though, because it would require more external drives. If you keep the same information on multiple drives, if one fails, you still have the other. The more backup drives you have, the safer you would be. A redundant backup would involve having more than one backup, so this would mean having the same data on 3 or more drives. In the even that one of them fails, it would be important to get it replaced as soon as possible to maintain the redundancy.

    The easiest way to protect your data is to take care of your drives. This would be putting it in a safe and physically secure location. Keeping it clean is important as well. The better the conditions are, the more likely you are to preserve the drive. It should be cool and dry, with no risk of falling. Physical shaking can cause a lot of damage. Also, keep it away from larger electrical fields like televisions, stereos, microwaves, or anything that uses magnets. If you intend to travel with it, you may want to invest in a sturdy and secure protective case. This is no replacement for regular backups though.

    The more a drive is used, the more wear and tear happens to it. This is especially true if you are frequently adding and removing files often.

    Defragmenting an external drive should be perfectly safe, but if you only add files to it, it shouldn't have problems with fragmentation. Fragmentation generally happens with you delete files and then add more. This can end up putting parts of a file into the free space where you deleted something, then finish the file somewhere else if the free space ends. It's just as safe to defragment an external drive as it is an internal. It can be resource intensive though, and the heavy drive usage cause by defragmenting could shorten the life of any drive to a certain degree, depending on how often you do so and how much it has to work each time.

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